of the places we will visit were Roman colonies, Philippi and Corinth.
It is helpful for our understanding of the Roman world of the New
Testament to have an appreciation for the Roman colony and how it
relates to Paul’s view of the church.
like the way William Barclay describes a Roman colony and its
Paul chose a place wherein to work and to preach the gospel, he always
chose it with the eye of a strategist.
He always chose a place which was not only important in itself,
but which was the key point of the whole area.
It has often been noted that, to this day, many of the places
which Paul chose as preaching-centers are still great road centers and
railway junctions. And such
was Philippi. Philippi had
at least three great claims to distinction.
In the neighborhood there were gold and silver mines, which had been
worked as far back as the time of the Phoenicians.
It is true that by the time of the Christian era they had become
exhausted, but they had made Philippi a great commercial center of the
The city itself had been founded by Philip, the father of Alexander the
Great, and it is his name that it bears.
It was founded on the site of a place called Krenides, a name
which means The Wells or Fountains; and Krenides was itself a very
ancient city. Philip had
founded Philippi for a very definite reason.
There was no more strategic site in all
Europe. There is a
range of hills which divides Europe from Asia, the east from the west.
Just at Philippi that chain of hills dips into a pass; and,
therefore, Philippi commanded the road from Europe to Asia, for through
the pass the road must go. It
was for that reason that in 368 BC Philip had founded the city of
Philippi to command the road from the east to the west.
And it was for that reason that one of the great decisive battles
of history was fought much later at Philippi; for it was at Philippi
that Antony defeated Brutus and Cassius, and thereby decided the whole
future of the Roman Empire.
Not very long after Philippi attained to the dignity of becoming
a Roman Colony. These Roman
Colonies were amazing institutions.
They were not colonies in the sense of being outposts of
civilization in unexplored parts of the world.
They had begun by having a military significance.
It was the custom of Rome to send out parties of veteran
soldiers, who had served their time, and who had been granted
citizenship, and to settle them in strategic road centers.
Usually these parties consisted of 300 veterans with their wives
and children. These
colonies were the focal points of the great Roman road systems.
The roads were so engineered that reinforcements could speedily
be sent from one colony to another.
They were founded to keep the peace, and to command the strategic
centers in Rome’s far-flung Empire.
At first they had been founded in Italy; bujt soon they were
scattered throughout the whole Empire, as the Empire grew.
As we have seen, their original significance had been military,
but in the later days the title of colony was given by the Roman
government to any city which they wished to honor and to repay for
colonies had one great characteristic.
Wherever they were they were little fragments of Rome, and their
pride in their Roman citizenship was their dominating characteristic.
The Roman language was spoken; Roman dress was worn; Roman
customs were observed; their magistrates had Roman titles, and carried
out the same ceremonies as were carried out in Rome itself.
Wherever they were these colonies were stubbornly and unalterably
Roman. They would never
have dreamt of becoming assimilated to the people amidst whom they were
set. They were parts of
Rome, miniature cities of Rome, and they never forgot it. We can hear the Roman pride breathing through the charge
against Paul and Silas in Acts 16:20,21: ‘These men are Jews, and they
are trying to teach and to introduce laws and customs which it is not
right for us to observe—for we
are Romans.’ ‘You
are a colony of heaven.’ Paul wrote to the Philippian Church (3:20).
Just as the Roman colonist never forgot in any environment that
he was a Roman, so they must never forget in any society that they are
Christians. Nowhere were
men prouder of being Roman citizens than in these colonies.
And such was Philippi.”
Might I add, it would revolutionize our Christian communities if we could see our churches as “colonies of heaven” where the values and priorities of the Kingdom of God were exhibited and fleshed out in word and deed for the world to see. “What is Heaven like?” they might ask. We should be able to tell them to look at our churches. There you will see a little bit of Heaven!!
Notes above written by Dr. Earl Fries.
"lover of horses, warlike"). A town of Macedonia, anciently
known as Krenides (Strabo 7.331). It was situated about nine miles from
the Aegean Sea, NW of the island of Thasos. King Philip II took it from
the Thracians and gave it his own name. The area of Philippi was then
important for its gold mines, but the economy was bolstered by the
fertility of the soil as well. The Philippi that the apostle Paul
visited was a Roman colony founded by Augustus. The position of the city
on the main road from Rome to Asia, the Via Egnatia, made it
The fertile plain of
Philippi was the battlefield between Mark Antony and Octavian and Brutus
and Cassius, in which the former conquered and the Roman Republic was
overthrown in 42 B.C. In celebration of the victory the city was made a
Roman colony with the special privileges this involved. Paul and Silas
were imprisoned here on the second missionary journey (Acts 16:9-40).
The Philippian church was especially generous and beloved by Paul (2 Cor
8:1-6; 11:9; Phil 1:1-8), and his epistle to this congregation has
always been a favorite of Christians. The second epistle to the
Corinthians may have been written in this city. The first church in
Europe was planted here.
Excavations at Philippi
were conducted by the French School of Athens 1914-38, and since World
War II to the present they have been carried on by the Greek
Archaeological Service. Dominating the site is the forum, a rectangle
330 by 165 feet, which in its present form dates to about A.D. 175.
Apparently, however, the form of it is about the same as in Paul's day.
On the N side of the forum is a bema where Paul probably stood before
the magistrates (Acts 16:19-21). A stretch of the Via Egnatia (Egnatian
Way) may be seen adjacent to the N side of the forum. South of the forum
are remains of a sixth-century Christian basilica (Basilica B). North of
the forum across the modern road are excavated remains of a
fifth-century basilica (Basilica A). Next to that the modern visitor is
shown what is identified as the prison into which Paul and Silas were
cast. Actually a Roman cistern, it seems to have dubious support for
having been the place where Paul was held. On the slope of the acropolis
just to the NE of Basilica A is a well-preserved theater, which in its
original form probably dated from the time of Philip II in the fourth
BIBLIOGRAPHY: W. A.
McDonald, Biblical Archaeologist 3 (1940): 18-24; A. N. Sherwin-White,
Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament (1963), pp. 93-95; E.
M. Blaiklock, Cities of the New Testament (1965), pp. 39-44.
(From The New Unger's
Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago,
A city of Macedon, in,a
plain between the Pangaeus arid Haemus ranges, nine miles from the sea.
Paul from the port Neapolis (Kavalla) on the coast (Acts 16:11) reached
Philippi by an ancient paved road over the steep range Symbolum (which
runs from the W. end of Haemus to the S. end of Pangaeus) in his second
missionary journey, A.D. 51. The walls are traced along the stream; at
350 ft. from it is the site of the gate through which Paul went to the
place of prayer by the river's (Gangites) side, where the dyer LYDIA
(which see) was converted, the firstfruits of the gospel in Europe. Dyed
goods were imported from Thyatira to the parent city Philippi, and were
dispersed by pack animals among the mountaineers of Haemus and Pangaeus.
The Satriae tribe had the oracle of Dionysus, the Thracian prophet god.
The "damsel with the spirit of divination" may have belonged
to this shrine, or else to Apollo's (as the spirit is called "Pythoness,"
Greek), and been hired by the Philippians to divine for hire to the
country folk coming to the market. She met Paul several days on his way
to the place of prayer, and used to cry out on each occasion "these
servants of the most high God announce to us the way of salvation."
Paul cast out the spirit; and her owners brought him and Silas before
the magistrates, the duumvirs, who inflicted summary chastisement, never
imagining they were Romans. Paul keenly felt this wrong (Acts 16:37),
and took care subsequently that his Roman privilege should not be set at
nought (Acts 22:25; 1 Thess 2:2).
Philippi was founded by
Philip of Macedon, in the vicinity of the famed gold mines, on the site
"the springs" (Kremides). Augustus founded the Roman
"colony" to commemorate his victory over Brutus and Cassius
Acts 16:12), 42 B.C., close to the ancient site, on the main road from
Europe to Asia by Brundusium, Dyrrachium, across Epirus to Thessalonica,
and so forward by Philippi. Philippi was "the first (i.e. farthest
from Rome and first which Paul met in entering Macedon) city of the
district" called Macedonia Prima, as lying farthest eastward, not
as KJV "the chief city." Thessalonica was chief city of the
province, and Amphipolis of the district "Macedonia Prima." A
"colony" (accurately so named by Luke as distinguished from
the Greek apoikia) was Rome reproduced in miniature in the provinces
(Jul. Gellius, Luke 16:13); its inhabitants had Roman citizenship, the
right of voting in the Roman tribes, their own senate and magistrates,
the Roman law and language. That the Roman "colonia," not the
Greek apoikia is used, marks the accuracy of Acts 16:12.
Paul visited Philippi
again on his way from Ephesus into Macedon (Acts 20:1), and a third time
on his return from Greece (Corinth) to Syria by way of Macedon (Acts
20:3,6). The community of trials for Christ's sake strengthened the bond
which united him and the Philippian Christians (Phil 1:28-30). They
alone supplied his wants twice in Thessalonica soon after he left them
(Phil 4:15-16); a third time, through Epaphroditus, just before this
epistle (Phil 4:10,18; 2 Cor 11:9).
Few Jews were in
Philippi to sow distrust between him and them. No synagogue, but merely
an oratory (proseuchee (NT:4336)), was there. The check to his zeal in
being forbidden by the Spirit to enter Asia, Bithynia, and Mysia, and
the miraculous call to Macedon, and his success in Philippi and the love
of the converts, all endeared it to him. Yet the Philippians needed to
be forewarned of the Judaizing influence which might assail their church
at any time as it had crept into the Galatian churches (Phil 3:2). The
epistle (Phil 4:2-3), in undesigned coincidence with the history (Acts
16:13-14), implies that females were among the prominent church members.
Its people were poor, but most liberal (2 Cor 8:1-2); persecuted, but
faithful: only there was a tendency to dissension which Paul reproves
(Phil 1:27; 2:1-4,12,14; 4:2).
In A.D. 107 the city
was visited by Ignatius, who passed through on his way to martyrdom at
Rome. Immediately after Polycarp wrote to the Philippians, sending at
their request a copy of all the letters of Ignatius which the church of
Smyrna had; so they still retained the same sympathy with sufferers for
Christ as in Paul's days. Their religion was practical and emotional,
not speculative; hence but little doctrine and quotation of the Old
Testament occur in the epistle of Paul to them. The gold mines furnished
the means of their early liberality, but were a temptation to
covetousness, against which Polycarp warns them. Their graces were
doubtless not a little helped by the epistle and the oral teaching of
the great apostle.
(from Fausset's Bible
Dictionary, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1998 by Biblesoft)
ethnic Philippesios, Phil 4:15): A city of Macedonia, situated in 41ø
5' North latitude and 24ø 16' East longitude.
1. Position and Name:
It lay on the Egnatian Road, 33 Roman miles from Amphipolis and 21 from
Acontisma, in a plain bounded on the East and North by the mountains
which lie between the rivers Zygactes and Nestus, on the West by Mt.
Pangaeus, on the South by the ridge called in antiquity Symbolum, over
which ran the road connecting the city with its seaport, NEAPOLIS (which
see), 9 miles distant. This plain, a considerable part of which is
marshy in modern, as in ancient, times, is connected with the basin of
the Strymon by the valley of the Angites (Herodotus vii.113), which also
bore the names Gangas or Gangites (Appian, Bell. Civ. iv.106), the
modern Anghista. The ancient name. of Philippi was Crenides (Strabo
vii.331; Diodorus xvi.3, 8; Appian, Bell. Civ. iv.105; Stephanus Byz.
s.v.), so called after the springs which feed the river and the marsh;
but it was refounded by Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander
the Great, and received his name.
2. History: Appian
(Bell. Civ. iv.105) and Harpocration say that Crenides was afterward
called Daton, and that this name was changed to Philippi, but this
statement is open to question, since Daton, which became proverbial
among the Greeks for good fortune, possessed, as Strabo tells us
(vii.331 fr. 36), "admirably fertile territory, a lake, rivers,
dockyards and productive gold mines," whereas Philippi lies, as we
have seen, some 9 miles inland. Many modern authorities, therefore, have
placed Daton on the coast at or near the site of Neapolis. On the whole,
it seems best to adopt the view of Heuzey (Mission archeologique, 35, 62
ff) that Daton was not originally a city, but the whole district which
lay immediately to the East of Mt. Pangaeus, including the Philippian
plain and the seacoast about Neapolis. On the site of the old foundation
of Crenides, from which the Greek settlers had perhaps been driven out
by the Thracians about a century previously, the Thasians in 360 BC
founded their colony of Daton with the aid of the exiled Athenian
statesman Callistratus, in order to exploit the wealth, both
agricultural and mineral, of the neighborhood.
To Philip, who ascended
the Macedonian throne in 359 BC, the possession of this spot seemed of
the utmost importance. Not only is the plain itself well watered and of
extraordinary fertility, but a strongly-fortified post planted here
would secure the natural land-route from Europe to Asia and protect the
eastern frontier of Macedonia against Thracian inroads. Above all, the
mines of the district might meet his most pressing need, that of an
abundant supply of gold. The site was therefore seized in 358 BC, the
city was enlarged, strongly fortitled, and renamed, the Thasian settlers
either driven out or reinforced, and the mines, worked with
characteristic energy, produced over 1,000 talents a year (Diodorus
xvi.8) and enabled Philip to issue a gold currency which in the West
soon superseded the Persian darics (G.F. Hill, Historical Greek Coins,
80 ff). The revenue thus obtained was of inestimable value to Philip,
who not only used it for the development of the Macedonian army, but
also proved himself a master of the art of bribery.
His remark is well
known that no fortress was impregnable to whose walls an ass laden with
gold could be driven. Of the history of Philippi during the next 3
centuries we know practically nothing. Together with the rest of
Macedonia, it passed into the Roman hands after the battle of Pydna (168
BC), and fell in the first of the four regions into which the country
was then divided (Livy xlv.29). In 146 the whole of Macedonia was formed
into a single Roman province. But the mines seem to have been almost, if
not quite, exhausted by this time, and Strabo (vii. 331 fr. 41) speaks
of Philippi as having sunk by the time of Caesar to a "small
settlement" (katoikia mikra). In the autumn of 42 BC it witnessed
the death-struggle of the Roman republic. Brutus and Cassius, the
leaders of the band of conspirators who had assassinated Julius Caesar,
were faced by Octavian, who 15 years later became the Emperor Augustus,
and Antony. In the first engagement the army of Brutus defeated that of
Octavian, while Antony's forces were victorious over those of Cassius,
who in despair put an end to his life. Three weeks later the second and
decisive conflict took place. Brutus was compelled by his impatient
soldiery to give battle, his troops were routed and he himself fell on
his own sword. Soon afterward Philippi was made a Roman colony with the
title Colonia Iulia Philippensis. After the battle of Actium (31 BC) the
colony was reinforced, largely by Italian partisans of Antony who were
dispossessed in order to afford allotments for Octavian's veterans (Dio
Cassius li.4), and its name was changed to Colonia Augusta Iulia (Victrix)
Philippensium: It received the much-coveted iusItalicum (Digest L. 15,
8, 8), which involved numerous privileges, the chief of which was the
immunity of its territory from taxation.
3. Paul's First Visit:
In the course of his second missionary journey Paul set sail from Troas,
accompanied by Silas (who bears his full name Silvanus in 2 Cor 1:19; 1
Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1), Timothy and Luke, and on the following day
reached Neapolis (Acts 16:11). Thence he journeyed by road to Philippi,
first crossing the pass some 1,600 ft. high which leads over the
mountain ridge called Symbolum and afterward traversing the Philipplan
plain. Of his experiences there we have in Acts 16:12-40 a singularly
full and graphic account. On the Sabbath, presumably the first Sabbath
after their arrival, the apostle and his companions went out to the bank
of the Angites, and there spoke to the women, some of them Jews, others
proselytes, who had come together for purposes of worship.
One of these was named
Lydia, a Greek proselyte from Thyatira, a city of Lydia in Asia Minor,
to the church of which was addressed the message recorded in Rev
2:18-29. She is described as a "seller of purple" (Acts
16:14), that is, of woolen fabrics dyed purple, for the manufacture of
which her native town was famous. Whether she was the agent in Philippi
of some firm in Thyatira or whether she was carrying on her trade
independently, we cannot say; her name suggests the possibility that she
was a freedwoman, while from the fact that we hear of her household and
her house (ver 15; cf vet 40), though no mention is made of her husband,
it has been conjectured that she was a widow of some property. She
accepted the apostolic message and was baptized with her household (ver
15), and insisted that Paul and his companions should accept her
hospitality during the rest of their stay in the city (see further
All seemed to be going
well when opposition arose from an unexpected quarter. There was in the
town a girl, in all probability a slave, who was reputed to have the
power of oracular utterance. Herodotus tells us (vii. Ill) of an oracle
of Dionysus situated among the Thracian tribe of the Satrae, probably
not far from Philippi; but there is no reason to connect the soothsaying
of this girl with that worship. In any case, her masters reaped a rich
harvest from the fee charged for consulting her. Paul, troubled by her
repeatedly following him and those with him crying, "These men are
bondservants of the Most High God, who proclaim unto you a way of
salvation" (Acts 16:17 m), turned and commanded the spirit in
Christ's name to come out of her. The immediate restoration of the girl
to a sane and normal condition convinced her masters that all prospect
of further gain was gone, and they therefore seized Paul and Silas and
dragged them into the forum before the magistrates, probably the
duumviri who stood at the head of the colony. They accused the apostles
of creating disturbance in the city and of advocating customs, the
reception and practice of which were illegal for Rom citizens. The
rabble of the market-place joined in the attack (ver 22), whereupon the
magistrates, accepting without question the accusers' statement that
Paul and Silas were Jews (ver 20) and forgetting or ignoring the
possibility of their possessing Rom citizenship, ordered them to be
scourged by the attendant lictors and afterward to be imprisoned. In the
prison they were treated with the utmost rigor; they were confined in
the innermost ward, and their feet put in the stocks. About midnight, as
they were engaged in praying and singing hymns, while the other
prisoners were listening to them, the building was shaken by a severe
earthquake which threw open the prison doors. The jailer, who was on the
point of taking his own life, reassured by Paul regarding the safety of
the prisoners, brought Paul and Silas into his house where he tended
their wounds, set food before them, and, after hearing the gospel, was
baptized together with his whole household (vs 23-34).
On the morrow the
magistrates, thinking that by dismissing from the town those who had
been the cause of the previous day's disturbance they could best secure
themselves against any repetition of the disorder, sent the lictors to
the jailer with orders to release them. Paul refused to accept a
dismissal of this kind. As Rom citizens he and Silas were legally exempt
from scourging, which was regarded as a degradation (1 Thess 2:2), and
the wrong was aggravated by the publicity of the punishment, the absence
of a proper trial and the imprisonment which followed (Acts 16:37).
Doubtless Paul had declared his citizenship when the scourging was
inflicted, but in the confusion and excitement of the moment his protest
had been unheard or unheeded. Now, however, it produced a deep
impression on the magistrates, who came in person to ask Paul and Silas
to leave the city. They, after visiting their hostess and encouraging
the converts to remain firm in their new faith, set out by the Egnatian
Road for Thessalonica (vs 38-40). How long they had stayed in Philippi
we are not told, but the fact that the foundations of a strong and
flourishing church had been laid and the phrase "for many
days" (ver 18) lead us to believe that the time must have been a
longer one than appears at first sight. Ramsay (St. Paul the Traveller,
226) thinks that Paul left Troas in October, 50 AD, and stayed at
Philippi until nearly the end of the year; but this chronology cannot be
regarded as certain.
Several points in the
narrative of these incidents call for fuller consideration. (1) We may
notice, first, the very small part played by Jews and Judaism at
There was no synagogue
here, as at Salamis in Cyprus (Acts 13:5), Antioch in Pisidia
(13:14,43), Iconium (14:1), Ephesus (18:19,26; 19:8), Thessalonica
(17:1), Beroea (17:10), Athens (17:17) and Corinth (18:4). The number of
resident Jews was small, their meetings for prayer took place on the
river's bank, the worshippers were mostly or wholly women (16:13), and
among them some, perhaps a majority, were proselytes. Of Jewish converts
we hear nothing, nor is there any word of Jews as either inciting or
joining the mob which dragged Paul and Silas before the magistrates.
Further, the whole tone of the ep. to this church seems to prove that
here at least the apostolic teaching was not in danger of being
undermined by Judaizers. True, there is one passage (Phil 3:2-7) in
which Paul denounces "the concision," those who had
"confidence in the flesh"; but it seems "that in this
warning he was thinking of Rome more than of Philippi; and that his
indignation was aroused rather by the vexatious antagonism which there
thwarted him in his daily work, than by any actual errors already
undermining the faith of his distant converts" (Lightfoot).
(2) Even more striking
is the prominence of the Rom element in the narrative. We are here not
in a Greek or Jewish city, but in one of those Rom colonies which Aulus
Gellius describes as "miniatures and pictures of the Rom
people" (Noctes Atticae, xvi.13).
In the center of the
city is the forum (agora, ver 19), and the general term
"magistrates" (archontes, English Versions of the Bible,
"rulers," verse 19) is exchanged for the specific title of
praetors (stratagoi, English Versions of the Bible
"magistrates," vs 20. 22,35,36,38); these officers are
attended by lictors (rhabdouchoi, EV "sergeants," verse 35,38)
who bear the fasces with which they scourged Paul and Silas (rhabdizo,
ver 22). The charge is that of disturbing public order and introducing
customs opposed to Roman law (vs 20,21), and Paul's appeal to his Roman
civitas (ver 37) at once inspired the magistrates with fear for the
consequences of their action and made them conciliatory and apologetic
(verses 38,39). The title of praetor borne by these officials has caused
some difficulty. The supreme magistrates of Roman colonies, two in
number, were called duoviri or duumviri (iuri dicundo), and that this
title was in use at Philippi is proved by three inscriptions (Orelli,
Number 3746; Heuzey, Mission archeologique, 15, 127). The most probable
explanation of the discrepancy is that these magistrates assumed the
title Of praetor, or that it was commonly applied to them, as was
certainly the case in some parts of the Roman world (Cicero De lege
agraria ii.34; Horace Sat. i.5, 34; Orelli, Number 3785).
(3) Ramsay (St. Paul
the Traveller, 200 ff) has brought forward the attractive suggestion
that Luke was himself a Philippian, and that he was the "man of
Macedonia" who appeared to Paul at Troas with the invitation to
enter Macedonia (Acts 16:9).
In any case, the change
from the 3rd to the 1st person in verse 10 marks the point at which Luke
joined the apostle, and the same criterion leads to the conclusion that
Luke remained at Philippi between Paul's first and his third visit to
the city (see below). Ramsay's hypothesis would explain (a) the fullness
and vividness of the narrative of Acts 16:11-40; (b) the emphasis laid
on the importance of Philippi (verse 12); and (c) the fact that Paul
recognized as a Macedonian the man whom he saw in his vision, although
there was nothing either in the language, features or dress of
Macedonians to mark them out from other Greeks. Yet Luke was clearly not
a householder at Philippi (verse 15), and early tradition refers to him
as an Antiochene (see, however, Ramsay, in the work quoted 389 f).
(4) Much discussion has
centered round the description of Philippi given in Acts 16:12. The
reading of Codices Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Ephraemi, etc., followed by
Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek, the Revised Version
(British and American), etc., is:
hetis estin prote tes
meridos Makedonias polis kolonia. But it is doubtful whether Makedonias
is to be taken with the word which precedes or with that which follows,
and further the sense derived from the phrase is unsatisfactory. For
prote must mean either (1) first in political importance and rank, or
(2) the first which the apostle reached. But the capital of the province
was Thessalonica, and if tes meridos be taken to refer to the
easternmost of the 4 districts into which Macedonia had been divided in
168 BC (though there is no evidence that that division survived at this
time), Amphipolis was its capital and was apparently still its most
important city, though destined to be outstripped by Philippi somewhat
later. Nor is the other rendering of prote (adopted, e.g. by Lightfoot)
more natural. It supposes that Luke reckoned Neapolis as belonging to
Thrace, and the boundary of Macedonia as lying between Philippi and its
seaport; moreover, the remark is singularly pointless; the use of estin
rather than en is against this view, nor is prote found in this sense
without any qualifying phrase. Lastly, the tes in its present position
is unnatural; in Codex Vaticanus it is placed after, instead of before,
meridos, while D (the Bezan reviser) reads kephale tes Makedonias. Of
the emendations which have been suggested, we may notice three: (a) for
meridos Hort has suggested Pieridos, "a chief city of Pierian
Macedonia"; (b) for prote tes we may read protes, "which
belongs to the first region of Macedonia"; (c) meridos may be
regarded as a later insertion and struck out of the text, in which case
the whole phrase will mean, "which is a city of Macedonia of first
rank" (though not necessarily the first city).
4. Paul's Later Visits:
Paul and Silas, then, probably accompanied by Timothy (who, however, is
not expressly mentioned in Acts between Acts 16:1 and 17:14), left
Philippi for Thessalonica, but Luke apparently remained behind, for the
"we" of Acts 16:10-17 does not appear again until 20:5, when
Paul is once more leaving Philippi on his last journey to Jerusalem. The
presence of the evangelist during the intervening 5 years may have had
much to do with the strength of the Philippian church and its
stealfastness in persecution (2 Cor 8:2; Phil 1:29-30). Patti himself
did not revisit the city until, in the course of his third missionary
journey, he returned to Macedonia, preceded by Timothy and Erastus,
after a stay of over 2 years at Ephesus (Acts 19:22; 20:1). We are not
definitely told that he visited Philippi on this occasion, but of the
fact there can be little doubt, and it was probably there that he
awaited the coming of Titus (2 Cor 2:13; 7:5-6) and wrote his 2nd Ep. to
the Corinthians (8:1 ff; 9:2-4).
After spending 3 months
in Greece, whence he intended to return by sea to Syria, he was led by a
plot against his life to change his plans and return through Macedonia
(Acts 20:3). The last place at which he stopped before crossing to Asia
was Philippi, where he spent the days of unleavened bread, and from (the
seaport of) which he sailed in company with Luke to Troas where seven of
his companions were awaiting him (20:4-6). It seems likely that Paul
paid at least one further visit to Philippi in the interval between his
first and second imprisonments. That he hoped to do so, he himself tells
us (Phil 2:24), and the journey to Macedonia mentioned in 1 Tim 1:3
would probably include a visit to Philippi, while if, as many
authorities hold, 2 Tim 4:13 refers to a later stay at Troas, it may
well be connected with a further and final tour in Macedonia. But the
intercourse between the apostle and this church of his founding was not
limited to these rare visits. During Paul's first stay at Thessalonica
he had received gifts of money on two occasions from the Philippian
Christians (Phil 4:16), and their kindness had been repeated after he
left Macedonia for Greece (2 Cor 11:9; Phil 4:15). Again, during his
first imprisonment at Rome the Philippians sent a gift by the hand of
one of their number, Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25; 4:10,14-19), who remained
for some time with the apostle, and finally, after a serious illness
which nearly proved fatal (2:27), returned home bearing the letter of
thanks which has survived, addressed to the Philippian converts by Paul
and Timothy (1:1). The latter intended to visit the church shortly
afterward in order to bring back to the imprisoned apostle an account of
its welfare (2:19,23), but we do not know whether this plan was actually
carried out or not. We cannot, however, doubt that other letters passed
between Paul and this church besides the one which is extant, though the
only reference to them is a disputed passage of Polycarp's Epistle to
the Philippians (iii.2), where he speaks of "letters" (epistolai)
as written to them by Paul (but see Lightfoot's note on Phil 3:1).
5. Later History of the
Church: After the death of Paul we hear but little of the church or of
the town of Philippi. Early in the 2nd century Ignatius, bishop of
Antioch, was condemned as a Christian and was taken to Rome to be thrown
to the wild beasts. After passing through Philadelphia, Smyrna and
Troas, he reached Philippi. The Christians there showed him every mark
of affection and respect, and after his departure wrote a letter of
sympathy to the Antiochene church and another to Polycarp, bishop of
Smyrna, requesting him to send them copies of any letters of Ignatius
which he possessed. This request Polycarp fulfilled, and at the same
time sent a letter to the Philippians full of encouragement, advice and
warning. From it we judge that the condition of the church as a whole
was satisfactory, though a certain presbyter, Valens, and his wife are
severely censured for their avarice which belied their Christian
profession. We have a few records of bishops of Philippi, whose names
are appended to the decisions of the councils held at Sardica (344 AD),
Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451), and the see appears to have outlived
the city itself and to have lasted down to modern times (Le Quien,
Oriens Christ., II, 70; Neale, Holy Eastern Church, I, 92). Of the
destruction of Philippi no account has come down to us. The name was
perpetuated in that of the Turkish hamlet Felibedjik, but the site is
now uninhabited, the nearest village being that of Raktcha among the
hills immediately to the North of the ancient acropolis. This latter and
the plain around are covered with ruins, but no systematic excavation
has yet been undertaken. Of the extant remains the most striking are
portions of the Hellenic and Hellenistic fortification, the scanty
vestiges of the theater, the ruin known among the Turks as Derekler,
"the columns," which perhaps represents the ancient thermae,
traces of a temple of Silvanus with numerous rock-cut reliefs and
inscriptions, and the remains of a triumphal arch (Kiemer).
fullest account of the site and antiquities is that of Heuzey and Daumet,
Mission archeologique de Macedoine, chapters i-v and Plan A; Leake,
Travels in Northern Greece, III, 214-25; Cousinery, Voyage dana la
Macedoine, II, 1 ff; Perrot, "Daton. Neapolis. Les ruines de
Philippos," in Revue archeologique, 1860; and Hackett, in Bible
Union Quarterly, 1860, may also be consulted. For the Latin inscriptions
see Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, III, 1, numbers 633-707; III, Suppl.,
numbers 7337-7358; for coins, B.V. Head, Historia Numorum, 192;
Catalogue of Coins in the British Museum: Macedonia, etc., 96. For the
history of the Philipplan church and the narrative of Acts 16:12-40 see
Lightfoot, St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, 47-65; Ramsay, St.
Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen, 202-26; Conybeare and Howson,
Life and Epistles of St. Paul, chapter ix; Farrar, Life and Work of St.
Paul, chapter xxv; and the standard commentaries on the Acts-especially
Blass, Acta Apostolorum-and on Philippians.
M. N. TOD
Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1996 by
[FIL uh pie] (city of
Philip)-a city in eastern Macedonia (modern Greece) visited by the
apostle Paul (see Map 7, C-1). Situated on a plain surrounded by
mountains, Philippi lay about 16 kilometers (10 miles) inland from the
Aegean Sea. The Egnatian Way, the main overland route between Asia and
the West, ran through the city. Philippi was named for Philip II of
Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great. In 356 B.C. Philip
enlarged and renamed the city, which was formerly known as Krenides
("wells, springs"). Philip resettled people from the
countryside in Philippi and built a wall around the city and an
acropolis atop the surrounding mountain. Although they date from later
periods, other points of interest in Philippi include a forum the size
of a football field, an open-air theater, two large temples, public
buildings, a library, and Roman baths.
In 42 B.C. Mark Antony
and Octavian (later Augustus Caesar) combined forces to defeat the
armies of Brutus and Cassius, assassins of Julius Caesar, at Philippi.
In celebration of the victory, Philippi was made into a Roman colony
this entitled its inhabitants to the rights and privileges usually
granted those who lived in cities in Italy. Eleven years later, Octavian
defeated the forces of Antony and Cleopatra in a naval battle at Actium,
on the west coast of Greece. Octavian punished the supporters of Antony
by evicting them from Italy and resettling them in Philippi. The vacated
sites in Italy were then granted to Octavian's own soldiers as a reward
for their victory over Antony.
The apostle Paul
visited Philippi on his second missionary journey in A.D. 49 (Acts
16:12; 20:6). Evidently the city did not have the necessary number of
Jewish males (ten) to form a synagogue, because Paul met with a group of
women for prayer outside the city gate (Acts 16:13).
French excavations at
Philippi between 1914 and 1938 unearthed a Roman arch which lay about
one mile west of the city. This arch may have served as a zoning marker
to restrict undesirable religious sects (Jewish perhaps?) from meeting
in the city. One of the women of Philippi who befriended Paul, named
LYDIA, was a dealer in purple cloth (Acts 16:14). A Latin inscription
uncovered in excavations mentions this trade, thus indicating its
economic importance for Philippi. Philippi also is mentioned or implied
in Acts 20:16; Phil 1:1; and 1 Thess 2:2.
Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright (c)1986, Thomas Nelson